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This book focuses on the spatial dimension of social imaginaries. The guiding hypothesis throughout is that this dimension is constitutive of modern social imaginaries. From an analytical point of view, this book’s objective is to show that a full understanding of these imaginaries requires characterizing forms of spatiality at work by differentiating their respective statuses. In order for such a proposition to be fully intelligible, there must first be a clarification of its terms and an introduction of the references it is based on.
Robert C. Kloosterman, Virginie Mamadouh and Pieter Terhorst
This chapter starts with a brief history of the concept ‘globalization’. It highlights the rather surprising rapid emergence of the concept in the 1990s when it acquired a very prominent status in both academic and public debates. After that, some of the many meanings of globalization are explored. More in particular, the focus is on the plurality of geographical expressions as well as of current geographical approaches to the manifold processes of globalization. The chapter argues that the spatial dimension – in marked contrast to the temporal dimension – has long been neglected in social sciences in general. Current processes of globalization require an a priori acknowledgment of the fundamental role of space as these processes may be articulated in very different ways in different places. Geographical approaches, characterized by a sensitivity to space, place and spatial scales, are highly relevant to understand processes of globalization.
Joe Williams and Erik Swyngedouw
The opening chapter of this book makes the intellectual and political argument for a more critical understanding of seawater desalination as an emerging phenomenon of water governance. Its purpose, in this sense, is to politicise seawater. The chapter provides an overview of the historic and contemporary development of desalting technologies and the global desalination industry. We argue that, rather than seeing desalination as a water management ‘solution’, it should instead be understood as a socio-technical and political ecological ‘fix’, which allows cities, regions and countries to overcome some of the hydrological barriers to growth and accumulation, while creating or intensifying other social and ecological contradictions. These contradictions, we demonstrate, revolve around the governance of water, privatisation and commercialisation, the water-energy nexus, and marine ecology. Finally, we summarise the substantive chapters included in the book.
Mat Coleman and John Agnew
In this introductory chapter, we explore the question of power as a plural rather than singular phenomenon, and what approaching “power in the plural” might mean for geographers and others interested in the relationship between power and space. By exploring recent debates in political geography, as well as anticipating the wider and more daring arguments made by the authors collected together in this volume, we argue that the spatiality of power is never singular and easily modeled according to straightforward theoretical bullet-points, but instead is best approached as plural, contextually emergent and relational, and as deserving of concrete yet transductive investigation in particular spacings and timings. One of our core interests – drawing on a variety of intellectual sources, including critical realism, Henri Lefebvre’s discussion of power and space, and more recent research on topology and so-called new materialisms – is to move beyond what we see as a rather limited discussion of power and space in political geography, and as such to put political geography “in question” as the taken-for-granted “home” of theorizing the relationship between power and space.
Anssi Paasi, John Harrison and Martin Jones
Region and territory have been major keywords of geographical thinking, methodology and research practice since the institutionalization of geography as an academic discipline at the end of the nineteenth century. But what is a region? How are they constructed? How do regions relate to territory? Are regions and territories still relevant in today’s modern world characterized by all kinds of flows and networks? How are regions and territories affected and shaped by social forces? What does it mean to study the geographies of regions and territories? What does the future hold for these spatial categories? These are just some of the key questions, which have not only shaped the long intellectual history of studying regions and territories, they are as relevant today as they have ever been. In this chapter we chart the increased utility of the region and territory in different social, political and cultural realms. We trace the evolving geographies of regions and territories through five distinct chronological phases – traditional regional geographies, regional science, new regional geography, new regionalism and new regional worlds – before revealing the dynamics underpinning a regional resurgence in globalization. In the final part, we contend that contemporary geographies of regions and territories are marked by distinct regional worlds, diverse regional worlds, and decentred regional futures. Finally, by taking stock of the current state of debates on the theory and empirical dimensions of regions and territories, we make the case for a new phase of consolidated regional geographies.